“The size of Korea as an economy is very significant. Also this is a country that is deep in technology. I think there is potential for us to work closely with some of the great companies in Korea and develop partnerships that serve the Korean market well, but also help us take Korean technology and integrate (it) in some of the work we are doing,” Harford said during an event organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea in central Seoul.
Uber withdrew its popular service UberX from Korea in 2015, about two years after its launch, following controversy over the legality of its operation and protests from taxi operators here.
Under Korean law, it is illegal to run services that connect passengers with drivers using personal vehicles.
|Uber’s Chief Operating Officer Barney Harford speaks during an event in central Seoul (Yonhap)|
Addressing the controversy, Harford said, “We will only launch products and services that are consistent with regulatory work. We are committed to change. We apologize for what, as a company, we have done in the past, and we want to be a better partner for Korea.”
Last September, Uber launched the carpool service Uber Share exclusively for the Korean market as an alternative to UberX, joining Uber Black and Uber Eats, among other services it operates here.
In the face of legal constraints that prohibit ride-sharing services, along with the market dominance of local food-delivery services, the company has yet to see notable progress here.
Food-delivery service Uber Eats, introduced in July last year, saw its number of users plummet some 84 percent to roughly 5,000 users this July, according to figures from the market research firm Nielsen Koreanclick.
By Kim Bo-gyung (firstname.lastname@example.org)